Note from BW of Brazil: Below is a piece written by George Oliveira that takes yet another look at interracial relationships in Brazil and a short analysis of some of the reasons for the increase of such marriages over the past few decades. To have an idea of this sharp increase, in 1960, interracial marriages represented only 8% of all Brazilian marriages (1). This percentage had increased to 19.5% in 1987, to 22.6% in 1998 (2) and, today, according to the 2010 census, this mixed marriages represent nearly one-third (31%) of all marriages (1). Now before moving on with this discussion, it is necessary to state that this article doesn’t aim to denigrate interracial marriage, but rather share and broaden the discussion of the phenomenon as it pertains to the situation in Brazil.
As has been covered on this blog in two previous posts (here and here), opposite to what happened in the United States where the black population was purposely segregated from the white population in order to eliminate or significantly diminish the possibility of racial mixture, in Brazil, the goal was to encourage inter-mixture so that all traces of the black race would eventually disappear from the country within a period of about 100 years. With this in mind, this article and the comments that follow, are similar to the discussion of a previous article in that this “is not about love”. Although there will be individuals quick to read this article and make comments like 1) “You are attempting to spread reverse racism in Brazil like it is in the US” (3), or 2) “Love has no color”, or 3) “There’s no problem with interracial relationships in Brazil” or other arguments along these lines.
But if people were honest about this discussion rather than reactionary, they would look beyond the surface of the topic and analyze it a little deeper. In reality, many Brazilians already note something “not quite right” whenever they see top black soccer players with white women. The simple fact that this is a common discussion on Brazilian blogs, social networks where Portuguese is written or comments sections shows many people see this question as more than simply “falling in love”. Brazil’s very history was constructed upon the disappearance of the black race thus the deeper question is why does it seem that so many black men are so eager to participate in this racial genocide? And quiet as its kept, this is not simply a question of black men in Brazil. One will note that a number of prominent black Brazilian women featured on this very blog are also married to white men.
As such, I would ask the following questions: 1) Why has interracial marriage in Brazil jumped 23% since 1960? 2) Do black men/black women prefer white women/men in relationships? 3) Are these marriages between BM/WW due to love, socioeconomic interests, the “trophy” syndrome, the lack of available BW in certain social circles, socially constructed self-hatred of blackness, a combination of all of the above or other reasons? 4) Do black Brazilian women marry white men for the same reasons mentioned above or is this a case of so many black men pursuing white women that they must open their options or face the possibility of solitude?
This article doesn’t plan to answer these questions but rather stimulate the debate. With that said, read on…
White women are for marrying
by George Oliveira
Here I make an invitation for a brief reflection on racism and interracial marriage. Where does one begin a discussion so serious, so delicate and so controversial? I chose a path and I hope it’s on point. I chose neither to present statistical data nor historical facts. The proposal here is to present a point of view, dialogue and provoke reflection.
Love at first sight is for the weak.
People more romantic than I can think it’s absurd to discuss relationships “of others.” They can even say that love is blind, asserting the existence of a perfect chemistry between amorous unions or when cupid makes a choice, it’s no use trying to escape. They are in search of the “other half of the orange”, the “pot lid” and enchanting princes and princesses.
The talk here is serious. It’s about racism, but it could be about social issues, sexism, religion or education and so many other things that can help or hinder the relationship “of two.” The free union of people in Brazil should not be disassociated from these issues. These feelings and the various issues are present in every type of couple.
Does racism “shape” the interest of a black man or black woman when making the choice for an interracial relationship/marriage?
Then came the memory of an old saying: “Branca para casar, mulata para fornicar, negra para trabalhar (White woman for marrying, a mulata to have sex with, a black woman for work).” According to (well-known anthropologist) Gilberto Freyre, this saying was quite popular in his time and reflected the role of women in Brazilian society.
I also remembered the “white passport” which is a term used by a militant of the Movimento Negro (black movement) to talk about interracial relationships in which social mobility must be postmarked or “rewarded” with a white partner. For what? To show society that one is well off. A bank account and diploma does not call as much attention as strolling hand in hand with people considered “beautiful”. Those people that look like the hosts of children’s programs.
When reading about the virtual absence of (black) soccer coaches (the topic of an upcoming post), I came across a text archived since December 2012 at the end of Brazilian soccer championship. At the time, I selected the ten top goal scorers and their girlfriends, fiancees and wives. Looking at each, all (were) white. That was the best way I found to talk about the subject, reflecting that the national craze is racism. You are mistaken to think that it’s soccer.
Each person with whom you share the idea of a text makes suggestions that you may or may not accept. In a conversation with a friend through a social network about the idea of writing about interracial relationships, he tells me something that hit me like a punch in the stomach:
“I think that to speak only of the players is very worn out. It’s the “Pelé syndrome” that everybody already knows. Now you talking about this in the new black middle class is another thing, it applies to everyone who knows and accepts this.”
Indeed, many people have talked about this. Then this same friend, who is married to a black woman, said a few days ago that he was talking about this issue with his partner and five key words came up to further enhance the discussion and complicate my situation of talking about a controversial topic in few lines: “Probability, Militants, Political Stance, Eugenia and Self-destruction.” But this is for an upcoming chat text. For now, stay tuned.
Militant of the Movimento Negro
Master’s Degree from CIAGS/UFBA
Comments on the article
Comment by Flavio M. Oliveira
It is very ridiculous the insistence of some people that have this cute vision of Brazilian miscegenation, as if it were a bed of roses, which makes even more important discussions on the topic.
Still there are blacks who involve themselves with black women, but they are increasingly rare, and if they improve their socioeconomic status they exchange her for the “trophy blonde” without the slightest ceremony, moreover, the white women know these deformed desires of black men and know how take advantage of this very well.
Likewise, the white man knows that most black women still suffer from a certain self-loathing, which feeds the desire to rid the descendants of the stigma of blackness. I have no doubt that many of them take advantage of this! So it’s not hard to understand why there are more black women alone, and raising a pardo/mulato (brown) and bastardized child than white women in the same situation.
I don’t say that all Brazilian miscegenation is motivated by the problems of identity of African descendants, but most of it is surely a result of what was planned long ago, so although we have already left the nineteenth century a long time ago, the poison that was spread there in the past remains in the minds of men and women of African descent today. It is the ideology of miscegenation! It is this mutual contempt between black men and black women! This shit has been perpetuated through generations, but there are people who still turn a blind eye to it all and make an apology to miscegenation as if it is the solution to the ills of Brazil.
In an attempt to maintain the Status Quo, they still try to distort our reality talking about how racism manifested itself in other countries where they didn’t resort to miscegenation as an auxiliary force to exterminate black people and our identity, as has been happening in Brazil.
Incidentally, the source of these “modern” theories about miscegenation in Brazil is the old theory of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, generically known as “praise for miscegenation” that basically proposes the “dilution of races,” assuming, devilishly, that there might be some sort of gain from this.
It’s worth remembering that, in Nazi propaganda, the German state was based on the invented superiority of one race (also invented, the Aryan race) to justify the genocide committed against the Jews. On the other hand, the ideology of mestiçagem (race mixture) promoted in the early twentieth century by the Brazilian elites (which, interestingly, did not practice miscegenation) sought the “extermination of difference” by miscegenation, instead of encouraging respect for differences and the human right to live worthily with the characteristics it had.
Conclusion: While the Nazis preferred holocausts and genocides to eliminate unwanted people, the ideologists of Brazilian miscegenation tried (and still try) to exterminate blacks by standardizing the populace physically and culturally around a fictional mestiça (mixed race) identity.
Comment by Flavio Martins de Carvalho
‘Natural’ is the engagement between two people free of complexes that can influence in their choice of partners, and it is evident that the ‘complexo de negritude (complex of blackness)’ of most blacks and black Brazilians ends up reflecting in their choices and leading them to reject persons of the same ancestry. Therefore, I agree with Flavio Oliveira, despite the insistence of some in ignoring this reality, prejudice of Afro-Brazilians is against people of the same ancestry, and not against other people, much less against whites with whom they are so keen to amalgamate.
Black men and black women need not condone miscegenation because they ARE NEED OF EXACTLY THE CONTRARY, incentives to value each other and free themselves from mental slavery that has remained with them since the days of captivity.
Comment by Flavio M. Oliveira
That’s it Marilene, the word ‘self-destruction’ applies very well to the text. Incidentally, this word reminded me of a painting called ‘A Redenção de Cam (The Redemption of Ham)’ (5). In this screen we see a very dark skinned grandmother; a mother who is also black but already shows signs of miscegenation (mixing) because of the lighter skin (“parda” or mulata/mixed race), and the child in the center of the screen that looks more like a European, it is the result of crossing with a white man. The most revolting thing of this scene is the black grandmother with an expression of tremendous satisfaction, and a gaze directed to the sky with her hands raised in a gesture of thanks to God for the white grandchild.
This scene of (painter) Modesto Brocos was painted to promote our extermination and give strength to the ideology of miscegenation, created and promoted by intellectuals, artists, politicians and writers who believed in white supremacy, and who preached that blacks could be eliminated from Brazil through intense mixing and massive European immigration. Brazil would then become an increasingly white country.
We need to overcome this ideology that was disseminated among us and that is perpetuated through generations. All stereotypes that cause us shame and suffering were intentionally implanted in the national imagination to generate feelings of low self-esteem in the black population. The elites have been using this cowardly strategy (creating discriminatory values) to induce black men and black women to flee their ethnic origins and reproduce the dominant ideology of “whitenening” Brazil.
Note from BW of Brazil: The process of miscegenation in Brazil easily recognizable in many families, particularly in prominent black public figures. Below are just a few of literally hundreds of example. Please keep in mind that some of the third generation of children presented below don’t necessarily look completely European but the pattern and progression toward whiteness is clearly evident.
A few examples of the “whitening” process in Brazil
Source: Correio Nagô
1. “Estudo de professor revela aumento de casamentos inter-raciais”. FGV/EBAPE – Fundação Getulio Vargas/Escola Brasileira de Administração Pública e de Empresas. May 14, 2013. http://ebape.fgv.br/noticias-destaques/estudo-professor-revela-aumento-casamentos-inter-raciais
2. Petruccelli, José Luis. “Seletividade por Cor e Escolhas Conjugais no Brasil dos 90”. Estud. afro-asiát. vol.23 no.1 Rio de Janeiro Jan/June 2001.
3. In regards to the first accusation, Brazil’s own collective black civil rights organizations, the Movimento Negro itself once advocated the growth of more black men/women relationships based on the following. According to historian Petrônio José Domingues’s research, the Movimento Negro developed “a political campaign against miscegenation, presenting it as an alienating ideological trap. The assessment was that miscegenation would always have a negative role of the dilution of black identity in Brazil. The mestiço (person of mixed race) would be an obstacle to political mobilization of that segment of the population. According to this generation of activists, miscegenation historically been in the service of “embranquecimento” (whitening), and the mestiço would be the first step in this process. Therefore, it condemned the official pro-miscegenation discourse. Instead, it defended endogamous marriages and the formation of the black family. The black man would have to inexorably marry the woman of the same racial group and vice versa. For this design, interracial marriage produced the phenomenon of miscegenation which, in turn, would result in long term, ethnocide. The national pro-miscegenation discourse was thus conceived as a strategy of the ruling class to trigger the “genocide” of blacks in the country.” (4)
4. Domingues, Petrônio. “Movimento negro brasileiro: alguns apontamentos históricos”. Tempo. Vol.12 no.23 Niterói 2007
5. This painting and the accompanying ideology of embranquecimento (whitening) was also discussed here.